MLS All-Star Game 2011: Manchester United Playing To Win

Despite this being pre-season for Manchester United, and also despite their 5-2 victory over last year's MLS All-Star squad, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has stated during this United States tour that his side "can't go into any game not wanting to win." The genuineness of the United's boss intent can be debated but he surely will be aware that prior to last year, the MLS has been victorious in the previous five All-Star matches in the current format - including versus Chelsea FC in 2006. Projecting a Ferguson lineup is an arduous exercise during regular competition, therefore, this occasion makes it that much more difficult. However, it can be reasonably expected that the legendary manager will field a lineup that is close to first-choice. Over the first two weeks of the tour, United have shown signs of gaining both form and fitness - and perhaps more importantly, no major injuries have caused hindrance. In addition, Mexican sensation Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez is due to join the club this week in New Jersey after being awarded additional rest after his national team duties. 

During United's first three friendlies on this tour versus MLS sides, there has been no tactical experimentation - Ferguson has deployed a generic 4-4-2 shape in each match. However, with the possibility that Hans Backe, the New York Red Bulls coach who will be in charge of the MLS All-Star side on Wednesday night, will field a 4-3-3 shape, it's possible that the United gaffer experiments tactically. United are a side that is versatile and fluid with their formations on a match-to-match basis, therefore, this could prove an opportune time to play in a 4-3-3 shape. With a friendly looming versus FC Barcelona on Saturday, which is a re-match of this past May's UEFA Champions League final, it is possible that manager targets this week to get some training done with a three-man central midfield. United will certainly approach this All-Star game as their sternest test yet and perhaps the step-up in quality opposition will rev up the competitive juices of the English champions. 

Projected XI: David de Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra; Nani, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young; Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov

Gene Um, The Busby Babe

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